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A Joyous Message in Good and Bad Times

Now, on that same day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about all of these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing this, Jesus himself approached and began to walk along with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” Saddened, they stopped.

One of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked them.

They replied, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be condemned to death. And they crucified him. But we were hoping that he was going to redeem Israel. Not only that, but besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Also some women of our group amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning. When they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb. They found it just as the women had said, but they did not see him.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and to enter his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.                            Luke 24:13-27 (EHV)

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Emmaus disciples were having difficulties sorting out the events of that time. They witnessed the arrest, beating, and crucifixion of their Lord and teacher. No doubt these two disciples were scared if not terrified. In fact, most of the disciples were hiding behind locked doors.

But what did it all mean? What possible good could come from all this? Their ideas of what the Christ would do and the images of their bloodied and crucified teacher just didn’t fit their ideas of what should be. But then Jesus opened the Scriptures to them and soon their fear and sadness turned to joy.

Some of their questions are likely being asked again in our day. How can this come to good? How do the deaths of tens of thousands in the world from a threatening and deadly virus get turned into something that serves God’s ultimate purpose and our good today?

Mercifully, most of us may not have to go through the loss of a loved one who has succumbed to the ravages of the COVID-19 virus. Yet thousands are dying, many without hope. Some leaders are offering hope and the promise of cures through different treatments that may or may not help us. But the truth is, virus or not, people without Christ will suffer eternally. And we are no longer talking about tens of thousands. In reality, we are talking about billions of lost souls.

Both real and “antidotal” cures (that may or may not work) are being offered to the world during the present crisis. Yet the overriding crisis remains. The human race faces it regardless of its ethnicity, color, or even age. That is why our Easter promise and hope is not an “antidotal cure.” Instead, it is truly a very real victory over sin, death, and the grave! Hopefully, one day there will be a cure for COVID-19. But there is only one cure for sin. As the early disciples revealed, it is Jesus. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

With all this in mind, it is truly a time for repentance, a time of contemplation as we can rejoice in the hope our Savior gives in good and bad times.

While many of us have full access to the cure for sin and death through Word and Sacrament, there remains a distribution challenge, and our Lord has asked us to spread the news of this cure. May we gladly share and proclaim the eyewitness accounts of His victory this Easter season and throughout the year.

Your Servant in Christ,

Rev. Dan Basel,
ELS Giving Counselor